Physician leaders from across Wisconsin gathered on Sept. 15 for the second of three virtual sessions of the 2021 WHA Physician Leadership Development Conference. The focus of the session was on physician transitions from clinician to leader.
Gundersen Health System CEO Scott Rathgaber, M.D., provided the session’s keynote presentation, “The Journey from Clinician to Physician Leader to CEO,” sharing his thoughts on skills, philosophies and actions that guided his progression as a physician leader. Following his presentation, participants, including WHA Physician Leader Council Chair William Melms, M.D. chief medical officer for Marshfield Clinic Health System, shared their own stories about their development as physician leaders. Attendees also posed questions to Dr. Rathgaber on issues facing developing and seasoned physician leaders.
Rathgaber explained that a key element of his leadership philosophy is shaped by the concept of servant leadership. “The servant leader is servant first,” said Rathgaber, quoting Robert Greenleaf. “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”
Drawing on leadership skills and philosophies was critical to his ability to support Gundersen Health System’s staff in response to COVID, said Rathgaber. He explained that humility, a growth mindset, a servant heart, empathy, self-awareness, courage and integrity were the cornerstones of his leadership development and continue to guide him.
In closing, Rathgaber provided some of his key observations as he looked back on and looks forward to in his ongoing leadership journey:
- Destiny is a curious thing;
- Luck favors the prepared;
- Purity of intent and purpose inoculates against failure;
- Never the wrong thing to do the right thing;
- Nothing is more rewarding than serving a purpose greater than self; and
- Leadership offers the privilege of multiplying the impact of your life.
The third and final virtual presentation of the 2021 Physician Leadership Conference will be held later this year and will include a panel discussion on “Intersecting Strategies to Address the Complexities of EHR Burden and Physician Satisfaction.”